Alumni

Lauren Hoelzer '97 Wed in Gatsby Ceremony

How about this nice suit, and a husband?
Lauren Brooke Hoelzer and Eric John Helenek - Sept. 15, 2012

Reprinted with permission from
The News Journal; Written by Betsy Price

THE INTRODUCTION:
Delaware native Lauren and Eric were both busy New York City professionals, she a lawyer at Weil, Gotshal & Manges and he a banker at Lazard, but didn’t know each other when they began using the same custom tailor, Asysha Hogan. A sales rep for Tom James, she would come to their offices. Asysha mentioned to Lauren that she thought Lauren might like one of her clients. Lauren declined. But when Asysha later brought him up again a year later, in December 2009, Lauren agreed to let the tailor give Eric her number. They talked on the phone for the first time in January 2010. They had fantastic banter, and, by the time she realized that in the background he was listening to “Piper,” a song by her favorite band, Phish, she was smitten. That night, they talked for more than two hours into early morning, and then texted each other after they hung up. They met for a drink the next day, and agreed to an official date a week later, because Eric was going to be in California for the week. They kept getting to know each other via the phone while he was gone.

THE FIRST DATE:
On a Friday in mid-January, Eric tried to impress Lauren by taking her to Butter, a trendy restaurant, and then to an even-trendier lounge, Apothéke, in Chinatown. At Butter, the two clicked when the self-proclaimed foodies discovered that they were interested in the same menu items and laughed over the pretentious menu descriptions.

THE FIRST KISS:
At the end of their first official date.

THE PROPOSAL:
On Feb. 5, 2012 – within three weeks of their two-year anniversary – Eric proposed to Lauren on the beach in Malibu at sunset. She suspected the moment was coming because almost three months before, Eric had told her he bought a ring. Lauren never spent as much on manicures as she did during those three months. They had gone to sunny Santa Monica, Calif., for the weekend, and Lauren lingered over drinks with a law school buddy so long, she nearly missed the sunset walk on the beach. As Eric and Lauren walked north on the private beach, he kept pushing them to walk around one more bend. Finally, the view opened up in both directions for miles. In the middle of some witty-but-sentimental banter, Eric dropped to his knee and proposed, drawing a diamond ring from his pocket. Lauren accepted and, of course, cried. A beachcomber happened to be walking by a couple minutes later and he captured the scene with her iPhone. The walk back to the car seemed to take forever; it was only then that the two realized how far they had walked for Eric to find the perfect place and moment to propose.

TELLING THE PARENTS: When the couple got back to the car, Lauren, who speaks with her mom every day, called her mother first and casually mentioned that she was engaged. Her mother started yelping. Calls to Eric’s parents, Lauren’s father, grandparents and uncles, and the couple’s friends followed.

THE CEREMONY:
The couple married Sept. 15, 2012, at Skylands Manor, in the rolling hills of Ringwood, N.J. They were delighted with the Manor, because the John Russell Pope designed the opulent mansion built in the 1920s, which set the stage for the Gatsby/Roaring Twenties affair they envisioned. Guests were asked to wear Roaring Twenties attire. The day of the wedding, hair and makeup were two hours late, causing the bride a good deal of stress, which she did her best to suppress. Although that made the ceremony start an hour later than planned – and caused Eric to be the butt of jokes from his friends – “Has she changed her mind?” “Hope you bought wedding insurance” – the ceremony was perfect. The bride walked down the aisle with her father and maternal uncle, Randall Barone, Vice President of Programming and Development at ABC to Phish’s “Waste” – one of the couple’s favorite songs. Chief Justice Myron T. Steele of the Delaware Supreme Court, for whom Lauren clerked after law school, officiated. Readers included John Newlin, the bride’s eighth-grade Tower Hill School English teacher and family friend. A family friend and former Greenville neighbor of the bride, Carol Kacmarcik, performed a “Salt Covenant” for the couple in which the parents brought small bags of salt to the altar, which the couple poured into a pouch of their own. The message: The commitment to the marriage cannot be broken any more than you can separate the grains of sand that belong to each family.

THE ATTIRE:
The groom wore a top hat, three-piece tuxedo with split coat and tails, and spats. The bride wore an ethereal Jenny Packham dress, dubbed “Eden” by the designer, that had the vintage look Lauren wanted. The ivory gown featured a long satin slip under a cap-sleeve, beaded mesh overlay. She also wore a Jenny Packham headpiece, custom-made Juliet cap-style veil, vintage T-strap Rachel Simpson shoes and platinum and diamond jewelry, and a pair of art deco earrings the bride’s uncle commissioned based on a pair she fell in love with at an estate jewelry store. The flowers were deep reds and rich purples with platinum accents to tie in the bridesmaids’ platinum-colored, flapper-style dresses and the groomsmen’s platinum-colored vests and ties. For the afterparty, Lauren changed into an ivory, beaded, open back, flapper-style Sue Wong dress with a short, ostrich feather skirt.

SOMETHING OLD: Lauren wore a 1920s white gold, crystal and diamond necklace that belonged to her grandmother, Frances Barone of Greenville, and carried a hand-embroidered hand-crocheted lace handkerchief that had belonged to the late Marjorie Hoelzer, her paternal grandmother.

SOMETHING NEW:
The dress.

SOMETHING BORROWED:
Whoops. In their rush to the ceremony, neither the bride nor her mother could find the handkerchief Lauren intended to borrow from her mother.

SOMETHING BLUE:
On the eve of the wedding, Eric gave Lauren a platinum, diamond and sapphire art deco-style ring, filling her “blue” requirement. (She gave him a vintage Rolex watch, circa 1950s.)

THE RECEPTION:
The reception began as the sun set on the patio outside of the Manor, and among the Manor’s many rooms. The guests were greeted with champagne and a signature cocktail named “The Cat’s Pajamas,” a nod to the era, and jazz age tunes by Michael Arenella and His Dreamland Orchestra. Rather than a formal entrance and a sit-down dinner, the bridal couple chose a house party with passed hors d’oeuvres and food stations open for the evening. The couple danced the Foxtrot with a tease of The Charleston for their first dance. Speeches were by the best man, Eric’s brother, Michael Helenek; the maid of honor, Lauren’s law school friend Lindsay Stoudt; the bride’s father, uncle, and grandfather followed the cake cutting. A photo booth with 1920s props was an enormous hit, and many guests spent the night upstairs in the Manor’s 23 bedrooms after the afterparty. At one point there was a mosh pit at the afterparty, which went until 3:30 a.m.

THE MOST SENTIMENTAL GIFT:
At the rehearsal dinner, Lauren’s father gave her a ruby and gold necklace, which he had a jeweler adapt from an heirloom ring that had belong to his great uncle, James Sherer.

THE HONEYMOON:
The couple “mini-mooned” in East Hampton for four nights after their wedding. Eric spent most of his time on the phone for work, closing two deals; Lauren relaxed and read a book. The couple will honeymoon in Southeast Asia this winter, a gift from the groom’s parents.

THE FAMILY TREE
: The bride is the daughter of Linda Barone of Greenville and Dr. Dennis Hoelzer of Wilmington. The groom is the son of Angela and John Helenek of Mount Arlington, N.J.

WHAT’S NEXT:
Lauren is an associate in the Securities and Corporate Governance Litigation group at Weil, Gotshal, and is the current chair of the firm’s Green Committee. A graduate of Tower Hill School, she received a B.A. in English from Columbia University and a law degree from Washington and Lee University School of Law, and she is a member of both the Delaware Bar and the New York Bar. Mr. Helenek is a director at Lazard, focused on capital-raising. He graduated from The University of Colorado, Boulder, with a B.S. in finance. They recently signed a two-year lease on their apartment in the West Village. While they say no one knows what the future holds, they would like to have children one day.
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